The Religious Life: Its Nature And Claims -- By: James H. Fairchild

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 054:213 (Jan 1897)
Article: The Religious Life: Its Nature And Claims
Author: James H. Fairchild

The Religious Life: Its Nature And Claims

James H. Fairchild

When we speak of man as a religious being, we refer to elements belonging to his constitution or nature. When we speak of one as a religious man, we mean that he has brought these natural elements into activity, and conforms his life to the facts and principles of religion.

The acceptance of such a life belongs to our personal responsibility. Our nature indicates its propriety and makes it possible. Our own definite purpose and responsible activity give us the religious character and make us partakers of the religious life. The devils who “believe and tremble” are by nature religious beings; but in responsible character and life they are irreligious and apostate. Men are naturally social beings. They have impulses and susceptibilities for a social life. They may order their lives in harmony with their social nature, or they may seek the solitude and live the life of a recluse. To have the character as well as the nature of social beings they must accept the responsibilities and adjust themselves to the relations of the social life. As rational beings men have the responsibility of determining for themselves the life which they will live. In the lower creatures the constitution and environment determine the life. They are made what they are to be. To make the brute a utility we mould and modify his natural activities within certain limits to suit our purpose. The man, on the other hand, must add to the

activities which spring from his nature and environment such aims and purposes as belong to a rational being, in order to realize a worthy life—a life that is not a failure. To the brute there can be no such failure, because he is not capable of shaping his life by any aim or purpose of his own. He always is and becomes what he was made to be.

The rational or moral being faces life under entirely different conditions. Sharing with the brute in many conditions and limitations, he moves scarcely a step in the world without encountering the fact of obligation, somewhat that he ought to do or ought not to do. Here comes the necessity of forming moral character. Here all fellowship with the brute must end. He might be willing to live—might even covet for himself the irresponsible life of the brute; but the likeness of a son of God is on him, and he can find no satisfactory life with brutes. He must lift his face upward and accept the principle of duty, the law of his own reason, as his rule of life. This necessity lies in the fact that he is a moral being, and the force of obligation is upon him by virtue of what he is, without reference to his constitution in other respects, and independently of all environment. Meeting an...

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